Sha Mi, Biogen Idec’s Neurology Ace, to Join “The Genetics Institute Impact” on Dec. 14

10/21/11Follow @xconomy

One of the scientists at Biogen Idec pushing for a new kind of regenerative medicine got some of her most valuable experience, and inspiration, back in the day at Genetics Institute. So we’re thrilled to have Sha Mi join what is shaping up to be a truly special gathering of alumni from GI, one of the pioneering companies in the Boston biotech scene.

Sha Mi, the distinguished investigator in Biogen’s discovery neurobiology group, has agreed to join the lineup of confirmed speakers at the next big Xconomy Boston life sciences event—”The Genetics Institute Impact” on Dec. 14. Sha Mi, who worked at GI from 1995 to 2000, will join the ranks of speakers who will offer a short story about one of their favorite memories from their GI days.

Besides Sha Mi (who sometimes goes by “Misha”) you can expect to hear these short stories from Adelene Perkins of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Tuan Ha-Ngoc of Aveo Pharmaceuticals, Abbie Celniker of Eleven Biotherapeutics, Tony Evnin of Venrock Associates, and John Knopf of Acceleron Pharma. Plus, we’ll have a keynote chat with the two scientific co-founders of GI—Tom Maniatis and Mark Ptashne—along with longtime CEO Gabe Schmergel.

Sha Mi, distinguished investigator, Biogen Idec

Sha Mi is best known these days for her discovery work on a drug that seeks to be the world’s first regenerative medicine for multiple sclerosis. This experimental drug, which Biogen Idec has advanced into clinical trials, is designed to block a protein called Lingo-1 that interferes with the body’s production of myelin, the fatty insulating coating around nerve fibers. People with multiple sclerosis have an overactive immune system that eats away at the myelin layer, and they have no ability to regenerate myelin to protect their nerves. That means nerve impulses that control speech, vision, and movement get short-circuited, sort of like when an electrical wire is stripped of its insulation.

According to Sha Mi’s hypothesis, the new drug should be able to help regenerate the protective myelin coating around nerves. And if you can regenerate myelin, it’s conceivable you can restore lost neurological function, like the ability to see, talk, and walk. It will take a long time to find out if this works in humans, but the experimental drug has already cleared some significant hurdles by making it into the clinic.

I’m personally excited to hear Sha Mi tell her story about a memorable time at GI that help propel her along her current path. And I’ve heard great feedback from many GI alumni, and friends of GI alumni, who are looking forward to this special event. Tickets are going fast, so if you haven’t gotten one yet, be sure to sign up here at the registration page. See you there Dec. 14.

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